Rep. Michael Wray, D-Gaston

This week the NC House passed HB 334 to provide tax relief to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and unemployed workers. I voted Yes. The bill now goes to the NC Senate for its consideration.

The bill provides tax forgiveness on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that many small businesses accepted during the pandemic to keep people employed and the businesses afloat. Without PPP forgiveness, many small businesses would be paying taxes on these loans rather than paying workers.

It also makes unemployment compensation not subject to state taxes. This will help workers unemployed during the pandemic who may be facing unexpected income tax bills.

Nationally, the American Rescue Program passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden is doing a lot to help families and businesses recover from the pandemic and create jobs and put money in people’s pockets. HB 334 is a bipartisan measure to support the national recovery.

Governor Cooper Outlines Timeline for Lifting State’s COVID-19 Restrictions

With stable trends and continued vaccination success, the state expects to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. The Governor plans to issue an executive order next week outlining safety restrictions for the month of May.

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. This fast and fair approach to getting shots in arms is the best way to beat this pandemic, protect one another, boost the economy and make it possible for restrictions to be lifted.

To date, the state has administered over 6.5 million vaccines. 46.9 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated, and 35.1 percent are fully vaccinated. More than 76 percent of people 65 and older have had at least one shot.

With vaccine now widely available across the state – often with no wait for an appointment, all North Carolinians 16 and older can plan to take their shot. The state anticipates lifting the mask mandate and easing other public health recommendations, once two thirds of adult North Carolinians have received at least one vaccine dose and if trends remain stable.

List of a Few Bills Filed This Week

The North Carolina House of Representatives has a bill filing deadline of May 4 for most bills and May 11 for revenue and spending bills. Here are some important bills filed this week:

Hygiene Product Sales Tax Exemption (HB 595)

· Exempts hygiene products, including feminine hygiene products, from sales tax.

· These products are essential to good health and should be made as affordable as possible for all North Carolinians.

Health Families and Workplaces/Paid Sick Days (HB 596)

· Provides all workers with paid sick leave.

· Paid sick leave is essential for workers to help them care for themselves and keep their co-workers safe and healthy.

NC Paid Family Leave Insurance Act (HB 597)

· Provides workers with paid family leave.

· Paid family leave allows workers time off to care for loved ones who are sick and to care for newborn babies.

Earth Day Bills (HB 632, HB 633, HB 634, HB 635, HB 636, and HB 638)

· HB 632 protects NC waterways by strengthening buffers and mitigation.

· HB 633 restores the solar energy tax credit to encourage solar energy use.

· HB 634 improves air quality by regulating heavy truck idling.

· HB 635 bans fracking in NC.

· HB 636 provides grants to encourage clean energy.

· HB 638 creates a State Clean Energy goal.

Repeal Public Records Mediation (HB 645)

· HB 645 eliminates a mediation requirement often used to stonewall public record requests.

· Government records should be public and available to promote transparency and better government.

State Employees and Paid Parental Leave (HB 655)

· Provides paid parental leave for state employees, public school employees, and community college employees.

· Workers should be able to take time off to care and bond with a newborn child.